My op-ed in today’s Daily Telegraph discusses Mr Abbott’s three broken promises in his first three weeks in office.
Broken promises after just three weeks in job, The Daily Telegraph, 11 October 2013
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made a great deal of the importance of keeping his promises. A few days before the election, he said that if he became Prime Minister: ‘you should move heaven and earth to keep commitments and only if keeping commitments becomes almost impossible could you ever be justified in not keeping them. And I suspect the electorate would take a very dim view even in those circumstances.’
And yet after just three weeks in the job, Mr Abbott has broken at least three promises.
It’s not time to hit the austerity button yet, Daily Telegraph, 4 September 2013
If anyone doubted the relevance of Keynesian economics, the Global Financial Crisis taught the lessons better than any textbook could. As private demand wilted, every developed country put in place fiscal stimulus – designed to save jobs and keep businesses from going bust. On average, a larger stimulus package meant more growth.
Today, Australia faces the opposite challenge. The University of Queensland’s John Quiggin has estimated that every $10 billion cut from government spending is likely to reduce employment by 0.5 percent. In a workforce of 12.5 million, that means 62,500 more people without jobs.
This matters because the Coalition is still keeping its cuts better hidden than the City of Atlantis. In past elections, every Opposition policy announcement was accompanied by a sheet of offsetting savings measures – the same approach that the Government has taken to our announcements. But you’ll look in vain for a costings table in any recent Coalition policy announcements.
I joined ABC666′s outside broadcast from Urban Roast cafe in Belconnen at 7.10am this morning, and spoke with Ross Solly about the campaign trail, the risks Coalition cuts pose to public and private sector jobs in Canberra, and what the parties’ policies say about their core values. Here’s a podcast.
I appeared on ABC Lateline with host Emma Alberici and Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne to discuss the Coalition’s hide-and-seek game with their policies, how their announced policies will disproportionately benefit the top 1%, naval bases and Labor’s plan to invest in productivity through infrastructure and education.
A transcript (thanks to Lateline) is over the fold.
On 29 August, Andrew Leigh MP appeared on Sky PM Agenda with host David Speers and Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg. Topics included the Coalition’s secrecy over releasing costings, and the situation in Syria.
On MixCanberra this morning, Liberal candidate Zed Seselja and I discussed optimism and talking with kids, kangaroos and roadside signs, Miley Cyrus and high-speed rail, and which Canberra agency will be forcibly relocated to the Central Coast if the Liberals win. Unfortunately, we didn’t get an answer on all these issues, but here’s a podcast.
On Sky AM Agenda, I spoke with host Kieran Gilbert and Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield. I outlined Labor’s positive plan for education and infrastructure, and noted the Coalition’s $30B of regressive spending – in the form of their $22B unfair parental leave scheme and their $8B restoration of the private health insurance rebate for higher income earners. I also discussed the impact that tens of billions in Coalition cuts would have on health, education and jobs. A transcript is over the fold.
This morning, Liberal candidate Zed Seselja and I spoke with hosts Rod and Biggzy on Mix 106.3. Topics included risk management, Coalition costings, the sacking of Raiders coach David Furner, and catching Biggzy’s cousin on one of my phonecalls to electors. Here’s a podcast.
On 19 August, I spoke with Waleed Aly and Arthur Sinodinos about the Coalition’s paid parental leave plan. It was a thoughtful conversation as always, but I couldn’t resist pointing out that the plan gives five times as much to the richest as the poorest, and is yet to be properly costed. Here’s a podcast. Transcript over the fold.
On last night’s ABC702 Political Forum, I joined Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull and David Smith from the US Studies Centre in a congenial conversation with host Richard Glover about the philosophical differences between the parties (I argued Labor is the party of egalitarianism and liberalism), the Coalition’s uncosted paid parental leave scheme, negative advertising, and the situation in Egypt. Here’s a podcast.
This morning, I spoke on Fairfax TV about polling, optimism and Paid Parental Leave Scheme. The Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme, which has been used by over 300,000 parents, is fair and financially sound. By contrast, the Opposition’s plan is regressive and at odds with the Australian social safety net that aims to give more to those who need it most. Here’s a vodcast of the conversation.
My opinion piece today looks at the costings challenge for the Coalition.
It’s Time for Abbott to do the Maths on Costings Gap, TheCanberra Times, The Age, 19 August 2013
Imagine if you decide one day to use a new accountant to do your taxes. He promises that everything will be done on time, and you’ll get a hefty tax refund.
You hand him the group certificate from your employer. He says the figures on it are not worth the paper they’re written on. You point out that he’ll have to use some estimate of your income. He responds, ‘don’t worry – we won’t be adding up your tax return this year’.
You ask about that promised refund. He shows you a draft of the return. It shows the same deduction claimed in two places.
As tax day approaches, the accountant keeps promising to do your return ‘plenty of time’ before it’s due. But with three weeks to go, you’re starting to fret.
If this tale sounds familiar, it’s what it would look like if Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey ran an accounting firm.
I spoke with Tim Lester on Breaking Politics today. A transcript is below.
TRANSCRIPT OF ANDREW LEIGH MP
‘BREAKING POLITICS’ WITH TIM LESTER
12 AUGUST 2013
E & O E – PROOF ONLY
Subjects: Election campaign, First debate, NBN, Costings, Peter Beattie.
TIM LESTER: Andrew Leigh, welcome into Breaking Politics.
ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks Tim.
TIM LESTER: How’s the campaign going?
ANDREW LEIGH: I’m loving it. I was out in Amaroo, in my electorate, yesterday – door-knocking, talking to people about the National Broadband Network. One bloke said he’d just gotten it hooked up, and he was enjoying using it to have better conversations with relatives overseas. Gotta say Tim, no-one came up to me and said “the real problem with the National Broadband Network is they’ve brought the fibre all the way to my home, and I wish they’d stopped it in the cabinet down the street,” but maybe Mr Turnbull meets people like that when he doorknocks.
After the first election debate, I locked horns with Shadow Finance Spokesman Andrew Robb about the government’s plans for managing the economic transition, and the need for the Coalition to bring their policies into the sunlight.
I spoke yesterday on ABC RN Drive with Waleed Aly & Arthur Sinodinos. Here’s a podcast.
Transcript – ABC RN Drive with Waleed Aly & Arthur Sinodinos – 5 Aug 2013
Waleed Aly: Time to talk our political panel, two of our favourite politicians, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, Parliamentary Secretary to the Opposition Leader, previously chief of staff to Prime Minister John Howard. And Dr Andrew Leigh, member for Fraser, previously the parliamentary secretary to Julia Gillard when she was Prime Minister. Gentlemen, welcome back to the show.
I’ve got to say that I was very intrigued, that when you’re not on our program, you guys are getting together, making all kinds of bets. This is scandalous behaviour. It’s an interesting bet. You’re looking at annualised real GDP growth which was 2.5 per cent, trend unemployment which was 5.7 per cent and average variable mortgage interest rates which were 6.2 per cent. And it seems to me that each of you is betting that if the other side get in, those indicators will get worse. Have I got that right Arthur?
On Sky AM Agenda today, I spoke with host Kieran Gilbert and Liberal MP Steve Ciobo about the government’s positive plans for managing the economic transition and the Coalition’s reluctance to release properly costed policies.
On 29 July, I spoke with host Kieran Gilbert and Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield to discuss the government’s responsible economic management, the Opposition’s refusal to submit policies for costing, and the whether opinion polls have any value.
My article in today’s Canberra Times looks at the perils of austerity.
Copying UK’s austerity cuts sets us on a road to ruin, Canberra Times, 17 July 2013
When the Great Depression hit the United States, US Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon famously advocated austerity. His formula was simple: ‘Liquidate labour, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate…It will purge the rottenness out of the system’.
The theory behind austerity is elegant: proponents argue that government crowds out businesses, and that taxpayers will equate spending cuts today with tax cuts tomorrow. There will be some short-term pain as prices and wages fall, but from cuts will come growth. Austerity sounds great in simplistic theory. The only catch is: it doesn’t work.
On 25 June 2013, I spoke with Sky host David Speers and Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos about the government’s proud record on jobs, pricing carbon and creating DisabilityCare; and the future reform agenda on education and innovation.
My op-ed in today’s Daily Telegraph talks about why it’s vital that the Coalition start to release policies, so we can have a real debate over ideas and values.
The real cost to voters of Abbott in the Lodge, Daily Telegraph, 24 June 2013
Former New York governor Mario Cuomo once said that politicians campaign in poetry, but govern in prose. A corollary is that while politicians campaign in ‘and,’ we govern in ‘or.’ Each decision to invest in one area makes it harder to devote resources in another area.
In this sense, the federal budget is more than a set of numbers, it is a statement of a government’s values. A government can never invest as much, or cut taxes by as much, as it would like to. Governments must decide between worthy causes. In these choices they reveal their values.
Labor’s choices are fully outlined in the budget papers. We are making long-term, smart investments in schools and infrastructure. We are delivering once-in-a-generation reforms to improve care for people with a permanent and severe disability. And we’re paying for these critical policies with $43 billion of responsible savings. The budget papers show that these savings fund our priorities not just over the forward estimates, but well into the future.
I spoke in parliament today about Coalition costings, and the importance of parliament expressing its confidence in Treasury officials.
Confidence in Treasury, 3 June 2013
Too often the crucial work of our nation’s public servants goes unnoticed and goes unthanked. As the member for Fraser I am pleased to say that many of these hardworking public servants are my constituents. I myself have been seconded to Treasury and have seen firsthand the hard work of those public servants. We on this side of the House believe in a frank and fearless Public Service in the great Westminster tradition. Those opposite would prefer to have a flaccid and fearful Public Service. That is their ideal of public service.
I spoke in parliament today about a bill that will ensure post-election audits, and hopefully encourage the Coalition to let their policies out of hiding.
Parliamentary Budget Office, 28 May 2013
Although this is a topic that I feel very strongly about, there is a large number of bills before the House so I will speak briefly today. The Parliamentary Budget Office was established on the recommendation of a joint select committee of parliament including support from all parties. The aim of the PBO is to ensure that elections are fought around values, so that there are two well-costed sets of policies which face the Australian people. The alternative to the Parliamentary Budget Office is what we saw in the 2010 election where the coalition avoided the Charter of Budget Honesty, a charter set up by Peter Costello, and then went to the election offering policies which instead had been so-called ‘audited’ by a private accounting firm. That accounting firm was later fined for professional misconduct because they had not conducted an audit. We had the farce of the member for North Sydney claiming that they had only conducted a small ‘a’ audit. Unfortunately, audit only has a small ‘a’. The coalition were, needless to say, embarrassed by this, embarrassed by the $11 billion hole in their costings which Treasury exposed. We saw some deeply disappointing scenes in here when members of the opposition criticised former Treasury secretary Ken Henry for doing his job and simply scrutinising coalition costings.
I spoke tonight on a Coalition bill that calls for disclosure of taxpayer data – but only for MRRT and PRRT taxpayers.
MRRT Taxation – Private Member’s Bill, 27 May 2013
It is worth reviewing briefly how we got to where we are today. When the mining boom hit Australia with commodity prices hitting century highs and mining profits going sky high, this government decided it would be an appropriate time to do for the mining sector what we had done in the petroleum resource sector a quarter-century earlier. That is not to use the old, outdated system of royalties to tax mining but to use a far more economically sound approach and to tax profits in the mining sector. Profits based taxation, Brown taxation, makes eminent sense. It recognises that the world price is not a price that is driven by the ingenuity of miners, ingenious as they may be, but it is a price which is driven by the demands of the world for our commodities. China and India are demanding our coal and iron ore because they need them to build skyscrapers for their industrialisation and that has driven the price through the roof. Yet until this government put in place an MRRT the Australian taxpayer did not see an extra cent when the prices went up. They got maybe a little extra for the volume but nothing for the price. So whereas at the start of the decade mining taxes were a dollar in three of company profits, by the end they had gone down to a dollar in seven.
This government decided to put in place an MRRT, a profits based mining tax, indeed the same mining approach which had been recommended to the Henry tax review by the Minerals Council of Australia. That is right: when the Henry review asked for suggestions on how to do mining taxation, the Minerals Council of Australia said, ‘You ought to do it through a profits based tax.’ It is not a radical suggestion. Indeed, Sarah Palin made her name in Alaska on profits based commodity taxation. So if you think that is a radical idea, I guess that means you think Sarah Palin is a moderate.
Budget seasons is a time for parties to elevate debate above political point scoring and sloganeering, and to outline to the Australian people their respective visions for our future and their agendas for government. For this reason, it’s probably Tony Abbott’s least favourite time of year.